AUSTIN (KXAN) — In a letter sent Monday to Texas county judges, Gov. Greg Abbott is reminding Texans about the state’s efforts to try to secure the border.
Abbott listed those actions in the letter.
- Deploy the National Guard to safeguard our border and to repel and turn back immigrants trying to cross the border illegally;
- Deploy the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to arrest and return to the border immigrants who crossed illegally and deploy DPS to arrest illegal immigrants for criminal activity;
- Build a border wall in multiple counties on the border;
- Deploy gun boats to secure the border;
- Designate Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations;
- Enter into a compact with other states to secure the border;
- Enter into agreements with foreign powers to enhance border security; and
- Provide resources for border counties to increase their efforts to respond to the border invasion.
Additionally, Abbott called on the federal government to reimburse the state for money spent at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Texas has devoted more than $4 billion of Texas taxpayer dollars toward these and other efforts to secure the border and enhance public safety,” Abbott wrote in the letter. “Congress should reimburse the State of Texas for the billions of dollars we have had to spend on border security in the Biden Administration’s absence. Federal officials who will not faithfully execute the immigration laws should face hearings and even impeachment.”
In his letter, Abbott emphasized the need to push Congress when lawmakers begin their next session in January to reimburse Texas for the money spent on border security. Preliminary results from the midterm elections show Republicans are likely to gain control of the U.S. House.
“Texas has done more than its fair share for far too long. The time has come for the federal government to do its job,” Abbott wrote.
Operation Lone Star, Abbott’s border security task force, has been active at the border since March 2021.
On Tuesday, law enforcement and state officials provided testimony about Operation Lone Star’s impact at the capitol. The big questions are: is it working and how does everyone feel about it?
People who live in border communities wanted to make sure when the state talked about it, their voices would be added to the conversation. They gathered outside the capitol to speak their peace.
“Operation Lone Star has over-militarized our border,” Tania Chavezcamacho, who lives in the Rio Grande Valley, said. They’re not only patrolling the south U.S.-Mexico border, but they’re also patrolling neighborhoods.”
Chavzecamacho and others traveled to Austin in protest, asking that Operation Lone Star soldiers be sent home.
“Rather than securing our border, they are terrorizing our communities,” Chavezcamacho said.
The Texas Military Department said the soldiers’ role is more about keeping those out, who they believe are bad for Texas. Major General Thomas Suelzer said there are now about 5,100 active duty soldiers on the border right now.
“Has led to over 323,000 migrant apprehensions, more than 21,600 criminal arrests and the seizure of millions of lethal doses of fentanyl,” Suelzer said.
According to Suelzer, the $1.24 billion operation is working to keep criminals and drugs from cartels out of the state. Soldiers haven’t been able to do that completely, which they blame on an influx in migrant crossings. This is something that’s affecting Texas communities.
“We have seized enough fentanyl in Tarrant County this year to kill all 2 million citizens,” Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn said.
Waybourn and other sheriffs feel Operation Lone Star is necessary but admit it’s making things harder for them.
“We depend on DPS to help us, to support us and work in accidents and, and help and patrol our roads,” Franklin County Sheriff Ricky Jones said. “They’re not here anymore.”
Still, some who live in those communities, aren’t convinced the operation is needed at all.
“We have lived there for many years, and there’s no invasion,” Chavezcamacho said.
Suelzer said Abbott’s letter doesn’t really change their day-to-day as of right now.